On May 17 in 1821, the first American consul to Morocco, John Mulwany, arrived in Tangier and took up residence at the American Legation in Tangier. He did so following the gift of the building to the United States by Sultan Moulay Suliman. Thus the United States and Morocco solidified a long period of partnership and cooperation that continues to the present day.
On May 17, 2021, the two governments of the United States and Morocco celebrated the 200th anniversary of this event in a ceremony at the Legation attended by the Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy Morocco, David Greene; the Wali of the Tanger-Tetouan-Al-Hoceima Region, Mohammed Mhidia; and the Director of Cooperation and Cultural Actions at the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nadia el Hnot, who also met with TALIM’s women’s literacy program participants from the Legation’s neighborhood in the old city of Tangier.
The Legation is the first diplomatic property acquired by the United States, the oldest U.S. diplomatic property in the world, and the only National Historic Landmark outside U.S. territory.
It was the site of many significant events in American, Moroccan, and world history. These include negotiation of one of the first international conventions signed by the United States, as well as other agreements with Morocco to facilitate shipping and trade. During World War II, the Legation served as planning headquarters for Allied operations in North Africa and was also used by the U.S. Office of Special Services to break Nazi codes.
The May 17th ceremony opened with a performance by US Marine Color Guards from the US Embassy in Rabat.
In his remarks, Chargé David Greene said, “I would like to thank his Majesty the King Mohammed VI for his ancestor’s generosity, just as we honor the King today for his wise leadership.”
The American Legation served as a U.S. Diplomatic mission from 1821 until the 1960s, when it became a diplomatic language school and then a Peace Corps training center. Since the 1970s it has been operated as a museum, cultural center, and research library by the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM), which hosted the event.
Other planned Legation Bicentennial activities will encompass a range of cultural, outreach, and educational programs, including a museum exhibit that will open at the Rabat National Library on June 10, and remain until late September before moving to Casablanca.
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